Burglary suspect opts for guilty plea

Published 5:00 am Friday, May 9, 2003

A Hinds County man with a history of thefts was ordered to servefive years of a total 17-year sentence for automobile burglary,grand larceny and conspiracy related to an August 2001 incident inBrookhaven.

Jerome Banks, 52, of Jackson, pleaded guilty to the chargesshortly before he was to stand trial Thursday in Lincoln CountyCircuit Court.

Public Defender Gus Sermos said his client decided to pleadguilty after seeing the potential jurors and his former girlfriend,a co-defendant who had earlier pleaded guilty and was expected totestify Thursday. The co-defendant, who did not have a criminalhistory, was sentenced to house arrest.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Sermos said Banks had rejected earlier suggestions to admit thecharges.

“He didn’t believe the day of reckoning was at hand until he sawthe jury,” Sermos said.

During the sentencing hearing, Assistant District Attorney DianeJones cited Banks’ two Hinds County burglary convictions from the1980s, two others from Adams County, and an outstanding burglarywarrant from Hinds County. Banks is currently serving four years ofa seven-year Adams County burglary sentence, which he began soonafter the 2001 Brookhaven incident involving a local photographer’svehicle.

Judge Keith Starrett suspended 12 years of the 17-year sentence,but ordered the five years served in addition to Banks’ currentsentence. He ordered Banks to pay restitution in the amount of$4,576.

“You’re also getting a break by not having to serve all the timeas an habitual offender,” Starrett told Banks.

Thursday marked the second time in a week that a defendant hadopted to plead guilty while jurors were being selected for trial. ABogue Chitto man pleaded guilty last Thursday to burglary chargesin connection with a September 1999 incident.

Yesterday, Starrett informed potential jurors that the case hadbeen resolved. He expressed appreciation for their willingness toserve, although their service was not needed Thursday.

“We could not have had court without your presence today,”Starrett said.